Red Deer native Skylar Roth-MacDonald is about halfway across B.C. on his cross-Canada run to raise funds for the CMHA. (Contributed photo)

Red Deer native Skylar Roth-MacDonald is about halfway across B.C. on his cross-Canada run to raise funds for the CMHA. (Contributed photo)

Red Deer native faces gruelling days in B.C. on his cross-Canada run for mental health

Skylar Roth-MacDonald is about halfway to the Alberta border

Running with blistered feet up a mountain highway, a Red Deer native experienced his most gruelling day since starting to cross the country on foot to raise money for mental health.

Skylar Roth-MacDonald, who now lives in Calgary, has covered about 60-km a day under the scorching sun and under rain and drizzle, since starting his cross-Canada run June 1 in Victoria.

Tuesday, a mixed sun/cloud day near Grand Forks, B.C., “was my most challenging day, physically,” he said.

“I had lots of blisters all over my toes and it was mostly uphill, so I mostly walked… I used it as my recovery day,” added the 25-year-old.

Roth-MacDonald has struggled with depression as a “ripple effect” of losing friends to suicide. He said eight young people he knew died of suicide between Grade 7 and high school graduation.

But mental health wise, he’s been feeling great since starting his Miles for Smiles fundraising campaign.

“Being outside this long is good for the mind. It keeps you positive and off your phone — which can cause anxiety,” he explained, during his lunch break west of Castlegar, B.C.

Roth-MacDonald is running along the shoulder of Hwy 3, with vehicles passing beside him. A rented motorhome, driven by two supportive friends, pulls ahead then waits for him to catch up kilometres up the road.

Drivers have been quite willing to share this stretch of highway, which is less busy than the Trans-Canada: “I haven’t gotten any honks yet,” said Roth-MacDonald, who’s running in full reflective gear to raise money as well as awareness about mental health.

“I want to open up about my own struggles,” he said before starting the Miles for Smiles campaign, to encourage people who are also struggling with anxiety or depression to seek resources, such as professional help, “and to talk about it as well. There’s nothing to be ashamed about.”

About halfway across B.C., Roth-MacDonald will eventually follow the highway over the Crow’s Nest Pass and into Alberta to begin the Prairie leg of his epic 150-day run.

His goal is finishing in St. John’s, Nfld. by mid-October — hopefully having raised $50,000 and a lot of awareness for the Canadian Mental Health Association. Roth-MacDonald has raised about $6,000, so far.

Highlights of the run have included finding a poster and balloons tied to utility poles near Princeton B.C., as a sign of support from friends.

“A couple of my buddies are also coming up on June 16 to run a full day with me in Fernie,” said Roth-MacDonald.

He’s also excited at the prospect of seeing family. “My dad is coming to spend some time with me in Creston,” he said, while his mom is planning to meet him in Calgary. Roth-MacDonald intends to set up a pop-up shop there to sell T-shirts and other items to benefit the CHMA.

Meanwhile, his journey continues, one step at a time — much like the battle against depression. “I have been building some tools so I can help myself,” he added.

Donations can be made at (A GoFundMe fundraiser was also started to help cover his fuel and meals).

AlbertacentralalbertaCityof Red Deermental healthred deer city


Skylar Roth MacDonald, originally from Red Deer, on his cross-Canada run to raise awareness about mental health issues. (Contributed photo)

Skylar Roth MacDonald, originally from Red Deer, on his cross-Canada run to raise awareness about mental health issues. (Contributed photo)

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

Dharmesh Goradia, and his daughter Vidhi and wife Chaitali, at the 2017 festival for the Godess Durga, held at the Golden Circle. (Photo contributed)
Draft curriculum misses the mark for central Alberta Hindu society

Meeting scheduled with Alberta Education officials

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Air Canada says it will recall more than 2,600 employees who were furloughed during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta’s tourism sector hurt by COVID-19 pandemic: ATB Financial

Between border closures, public health measures and hesitancy to travel, Alberta’s tourism… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

A man wears a face mask as he walks by a sign for a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, May 16, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Canada paid a premium to get doses from Pfizer earlier than planned

OTTAWA — Canada paid a premium to get more than 250,000 doses… Continue reading

The Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., is shown in this 1930 handout photo. HO — Deschatelets-NDC Archives
Calls grow for Ottawa to review settlement decisions for residential school survivors

Lawyer Teri Lynn Bougie still cries when she talks about the final… Continue reading

Syringes are readied at a COVID-19 mobile vaccination clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, Friday, April 30, 2021 in Montreal. Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for Canada to donate some of its doses to other countries or international aid organizations and in at least three cases, for the doses to be resold.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada’s vaccine contracts allow for doses to be donated, in some cases resold

OTTAWA — Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for… Continue reading

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, responds to the report on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, in Vancouver, on Monday June 3, 2019. As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Two sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

VANCOUVER — As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after… Continue reading

A woman sits and weeps at the scene of Sunday's hate-motivated vehicle attack in London, Ont. on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Four members of a family in London, Ont., are set to be buried today. The public has been invited to help celebrate the lives of Talat Afzaal, 74, her son Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, and their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman.THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins
Funeral to be held today for London family killed in attack

LONDON, Ont. — Four members of a Muslim family killed in what… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden listen to United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliver opening remarks at a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, United Kingdom Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau to discuss foreign policy with G7 leaders at second day of summit meeting

CARBIS BAY, CORNWALL, ENGLAND — Foreign policy is on the agenda for… Continue reading

Most Read